In late April, after she had rejected the idea for the May 20 protest, Norris stated on her website: "This was always a drawing about rights, never MEANT to disrespect religion. Alas – if we don't have rights, we will not be able to practice the religion of our choice. [...] None of these little characters ARE the likeness of Mohammed, they are just CLAIMING to be!" She also wrote, "I, the cartoonist, NEVER launched a draw Mohammed day. It is, in this FICTIONAL poster sponsored by this FICTIONAL GROUP", referring to the "Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor" wording in the cartoon. "SATIRE about a CURRENT EVENT, people!!! (That's what cartoonist's [sic] do!)"
The poster included a claim of sponsorship by an organization named "Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor or CACAH (pronounced ca-ca)", which Norris later said was purely fictional. Norris dedicated the cartoon to the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
Norris drew the original, poster-like cartoon on April 20, 2010, which declared May 20, 2010, to be the first annual "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day". The drawing showed various anthropomorphized objects, including a coffee cup, a cherry and a box of pasta, each claiming to be the likeness of Muhammad. Norris used an alternate transliteration of "Mohammed" on her poster. Across the top of the illustration she wrote:
South Park episodes "200" and "201" , broadcast in April 2010, featured a character in a bear costume, who various other characters stated was Muhammad. The South Park episode sparked statements from the extremist website Revolution Muslim, which posted a picture of the partially decapitated body of the Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, with a statement declaring that Parker and Stone could meet a similar fate. The group running the website said it was not threatening Parker and Stone, however, it also posted the addresses of Comedy Central's New York office and the California production studio where South Park is made. Comedy Central self-censored the episode when it was broadcast by removing the word "Muhammad" and a speech about intimidation and fear from the South Park episode.
In the media, Everybody Draw Mohammed Day attracted both support from commentators who felt that the campaign represented important issues of freedom of speech, and the need to stand up for this freedom, as well as criticism from other commentators who found the initiative crass, juvenile, and needlessly offensive.
Norris said that if people draw pictures of Muhammad, Islamic terrorists would not be able to murder them all, and threats to do so would become unrealistic. Within a week, Norris' idea became popular on Facebook, was supported by numerous bloggers, and generated coverage on the blog websites of major U.S. newspapers. As the publicity mounted, Norris and the man who created the first Facebook page promoting the May 20 event disassociated themselves from it. Nonetheless, planning for the protest continued with others "taking up the cause". Facebook had an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" page, which grew to over 100,000 participants (101,870 members by May 20). A protest page on Facebook against the initiative, named "Against 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day'", attracted slightly more supporters (106,000 by May 20). Subsequently, Facebook was temporarily blocked by Pakistan; the ban was lifted after Facebook agreed to block the page for users in India and Pakistan.
U.S. cartoonist Molly Norris of Seattle, Washington, created the artwork in reaction to Internet death threats that had been made against cartoonists Trey Parker and Matt Stone for depicting Muhammad in an episode of South Park. Depictions of Muhammad are explicitly forbidden by a few hadiths (sayings of and about Muhammad), though not by the Qur'an. Postings on RevolutionMuslim.com (under the pen name Abu Talha al-Amrikee; later identified as Zachary Adam Chesser) had said that Parker and Stone could wind up like Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was shot to death by a Muslim extremist, who afterwards pinned a letter to his body with a knife. The individuals running the website later denied that the postings were threats, although they were widely perceived as such.
Everybody Draw Mohammed Day was an event held on 20 May 2010 in support of free speech and freedom of artistic expression of those threatened by violence for drawing representations of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. It began as a protest against censorship of an American television show, South Park, "201" by its distributor, Comedy Central, in response to death threats against some of those responsible for the segment. Observance of the day began with a drawing posted on the Internet on April 20, 2010, accompanied by text suggesting that "everybody" create a drawing representing Muhammad, on May 20, 2010, as a protest against efforts to limit freedom of speech.